July 2014

8th July    URGENT APPEAL: HOMES FOR CATS NEEDED!

 

Not for the cat on the right - that's our beloved Henry Wowler having fun in the sun. And he's the reason I can't home any more pussies, much as I'd like to - he's so used to being the One Cat that we don't know how he'd take it (although I suspect he wouldn't be very happy about it. Nor, to be honest, would Hubcap - the Wow is plenty enough cat for him!). But Leeds Cat Rescue is chock-full with 64 kittens and many lovely adult cats, all urgently in need of new homes. LCR is a completely voluntary organisation which receives no funding except for donations, and is entirely run by a team of dedicated volunteers who rescue, rehabilitate and rehome cats of all ages - and it desperately needs your help. So if you, or any of your friends, live in the Leeds area and can find room in your life for a beautiful, entertaining pet, please contact them - all cats and kittens they supply are neutered, vaccinated, micro-chipped and treated for fleas and worms. Or if you can't home a cat, you could send a cash donation by PayPal or food,toys and essentials via their 'Wish List' on Amazon - see their website and Facebook page for details and donation button.

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Meanwhile it's being a busy month for Herstory. On 1st July, I had an interesting time at the Cathedral Centre on Westmorland Street in central Wakefield, delivering a version of my 'Battle of Wakefield' talk for a group of people with visual impairments. In preparation I re-jigged my Powerpoint slides, reducing the amount of text/increasing the font size and size of images to make them easier to see; rethought the whole presentation to make sure I was describing things clearly; and took along some items (a livery coat and tabard, arrow, sword and rondel dagger) to hand round, so that people with very limited sight could at least feel the weight and texture of some replica medieval items. It was the first time I'd done a presentation like this, so I was delighted and relieved when it went very well - the weapons in particular were the focus of a great deal of excitement and interest! It all served as another illustration of the power of objects to engage an audience, whether they're sighted or not - and I hope I'll do more such events in the future.

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14th July

 

Phew - scorchio for the Frei Compagnie at South Milford School Fete on Saturday! It felt like our hottest event of the season to date - so hot that I spent the day slobbing about as a very common woman in just my linen shift and under-kirtle (and barefoot a lot of the time). I certainly didn't envy Sir Wayne in his full metal suit (there he is arming up on the right, squired by Micks Big and Little), and was amazed that he kept it on past 'hats off' time at 4 pm - but he had an ulterior motive, as you'll see in the pic below right.

 

Meanwhile we didn't think the crowd liked us much at first, because visitors gave us a very wide berth - although whether that was due to our camp being perilously close to the 'welly-wanging', I'm not sure! However, as soon as I invited the first punter for have-a-go archery, we started to gain a lot more interest and the rest of the day went well; the firepower show was well received, with many youngsters clamouring for more bigger bangs from Des; then we recruited a full army (predominantly female) to drill in the South Milford Militia! You can see Mick Weaver arming them in the image below centre; below left, some visitors to Des's armoury; and on the right, Alex crossing light-sabres with 'Darth Wayndar', who to our great surprise and amusement, appeared on the field at close of play!

 

Today I received the added bonus of some lovely feedback from the organisers and the offer of a donation to swell Compagnie coffers - but great as that was, I don't think it beat the feeling of stripping off my sticky, sweat-and-sunscreen-soaked clothes at the end of that long, sultry Saturday and getting myself under a nice cool shower...

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21st July

 

Enjoyed a superb summer Sunday evening with Hubcap yesterday at, would you believe, our local business park! We started off sitting under an umbrella outside The Swan and Cygnet (left), one of the pubs on the edge of the Calder Park business estate (just off the A636 Denby Dale Road coming into Wakefield from the M1) for a slap-up tea. Mick opted for the ale-battered fish with chips and mushy peas, while I tried one of the vegetarian options: spinach, red onion and garlic mushroom tart with new potatoes, carrots and peas. Although the portion didn't look huge, the rich, cheesy tart was so filling that I couldn't finish all my vegetables - so I thought it was pretty good value for £7.95. In fact we were both so stuffed there was no prospect of managing a regular dessert, let alone one of the £4.95 special Giant Puddings (like the Club Tower of layered chocolate brownie with fudge sauce, raspberry sponge and vanilla custard, and sticky toffee pudding!). We didn't even bother to avail ourselves of the carry-out dessert service, as we were about to embark on a long walk and didn't want to tote it with us; but if you're passing this way, I can recommend The Swan - a nice varied menu including Light Bites and plenty of vegetarian choices, tasty food, reasonable prices and prompt attentive service - we'll certainly be eating there again.

 

Then to work it off, we made a repeat visit to Calder Park and its nature reserve. Last time we went (in winter two years ago), the business park was still very new, and the landscape plantings hadn't had chance to grow up; but in the height of summer splendour, it looked magnificent. The whole site is extremely impressive, with some handsome modern architecture and the lovely futuristic streetlights (see below centre) - and the general environment a very long way from your average business estate, as the pictures show!

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The rear of the West Yorkshire Police building, overlooking the large lake where flocks of Canada geese swim placidly

The small lake (complete with coots!) within the business park, surrounded by reed-mace, bulrushes and yellow Rose of Sharon.

Beyond the buildings, the Nature Reserve is a real treat, well-served with footpaths and tracks for walkers and cyclists. Large tracts of it are left unmowed, and the picture on the left can't do justice to its glorious mosaic of wild flowers: red and white clover, purple vetch, pink and white yarrow, raggy pink knapweed, yellow ragwort, white ox-eye daisies, purple buddleia - a riot of colour alive with cinnabar butterflies, bright iridescent blue mayflies and emperor dragonflies. Mick was in ecstasy, especially when he spotted the comparatively rare yellow rattle, (which parasitises grass stems), and river plantain. So it's a fantastic place for botanists, entomologists and bird-watchers - we had a great time walking among the swooping swallows and house-martins as they eagerly hoovered up insects we and passing dogs were disturbing in the vegetation, listening to the skylarks sing, and admiring the waterfowl including mute swans, great crested grebe and coots.

 

Altogether, Calder Park is a brilliant example of how business and nature can work together. The site is ancient wetland and prone to flooding - so it has been developed to keep large areas of water, with further massive dykes and sluice-gates to accommodate and control more (and no, the buildings didn't flood even in the severe weather of 2012 and 2013). If I worked in an office, I can't imagine a better place to have it than this - and as well as creating employment for humans, Calder Park and its nature reserve provide a home for a tremendous diversity of wildlife and plants, not to mention a beautiful leisure amenity for us to enjoy. Highly recommended for a visit!

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